It's Thanksgiving week in the USA, and that means plenty of turkey while also signaling the stretch run of the NFL season. Bovada has released updated MVP odds, with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady the +275 favorite on NFL odds. That a good bet?
Tom Brady (+275)
I'm not a voter for the NFL MVP Award so I'm sure they don't care what I think, but I don't believe the MVP winner should only play 75 percent of his team's regular-season games. Maybe I could be OK with it if the guy was out due to injury and then had 12 stellar games. But Brady was suspended for basically cheating. Did he actually mess with those deflated footballs? I don't know and neither do you.
But Brady is eligible to win the award, and he has been fantastic in his six games, leading the NFL in QB rating (123.3) while completing 70.4 percent of his passes (second in NFL and would be a career high) with 16 touchdowns and just one pick for the Super Bowl favorites on NFL odds. In this past Sunday's win at San Francisco, Brady had four TD passes and no picks in the easy win. It was his 21st career game with at least four TDs and no picks, the most in league history. Drew Brees is second with 19. In addition, should the Patriots win at the Jets this Sunday it would be Brady's 200th career win, which would tie Peyton Manning for the most ever.
There is precedent for a player missing some time and winning the MVP: Joe Montana missed three games due to injury in 1989 and backup QB Steve Young appeared in 10 games overall. But Montana shined in the biggest games and won the MVP. The Pats have at least two huge games remaining that will draw plenty of attention: Week 14 on Monday night vs. Baltimore and Week 15 at Denver.
Russell Wilson (+350)
Wilson started this season slowly partly due to injuries but is really turning it on -- just like he did in the second half of 2015 in making an MVP push. Seattle has won three straight games, including an epic showdown at New England in Week 10, and is completing 67 percent of his passes for 902 yards, six touchdowns and no picks this month for a rating of 119.2. Will voters reward Wilson for his win against Brady? The Seahawks have a manageable schedule the rest of the way and if they win out, Wilson has a shot.
Ezekiel Elliott (+450)
The Cowboys' No. 4 overall pick in this year's draft had overtaken Brady as the favorite entering last week. But Elliott had a mediocre game for him, rushing 25 times for 97 yards and no touchdowns against a very good Baltimore defense. Since a record four-game streak of at least 130 yards rushing, Elliott has topped 100 yards just once. But he also has had less than 83 yards just once all season. Elliott’s 1,102 rushing yards are the third-most in NFL history in a player’s first 10 games, trailing Eric Dickerson (1,223) and Adrian Peterson (1,197). Teammate Dak Prescott (+1400) could steal some MVP votes from Elliott.
Matt Ryan (+600)
The Falcons' QB was the betting favorite early in the season before Brady returned and started doing his thing. Ryan is second in the NFL with 3,247 passing yards and third with 25 TD passes. He’s on pace for career bests in quarterback rating and yards per game. But I'm not sure he gets much consideration with Atlanta at just 6-4.
Derek Carr (+900)
Carr shined against one of the NFL's best pass defenses in the Houston Texans on Monday night, throwing for 295 yards and three touchdowns in the Raiders' comeback win. It was Carr's eighth fourth-quarter comeback since the start of last season, surpassed only by Detroit's Matthew Stafford. Carr has thrown for 2,800 yards and 20 TDs against just four picks. He looks like a future MVP, but not this year unless the Raiders finish with the AFC's best record.